We have to introduce the organisation, its structure and business to be able to understand what challenges and opportunities which currently exist. Those challenges and opportunities are strongly interrelated with each other and we will discover that many of them depend on how the HRM participate in the process of decision making and in implementing decisions.

Having explained all that, it would be possible to introduce my view of my own strengths and weaknesses as a manager in dealing with these challenges and opportunities. This view should be explained and supported by evidence from different sources to make it a reasonable and convincing point of view. Furthermore, this will open the way for us to find suitable ‘gaps’ or bases to start defining the areas that are possible to be my future focus of work to start my EBI.

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Organisation’s background and structure

Law Exchange Ltd. is a private sector for-profit company owned by Mrs Kronfli. Its aims and objectives are to offer translation and interpreting services for those who need them in different languages.

The total number of the full-time employees is 15. There are around seventy freelance translators/interpreters of different languages that work for the company from their homes. Dealing with those freelance translators is mainly the responsibility of the HRM department (my department).

The following chart shows the hierarchical structure of the company with the number of employees and their activities:

Challenges and Opportunities

The decision making process and the aims and objectives

The owner of the organisation aims at having a successful business that gives good profits. She has plans to expand and establish branches in other countries like the Netherlands, France, Egypt, Dubai and the USA. She is open to any suggestions, new projects (changes) if she believes that the results will give more profits. Any manger or employee can suggest anything or complain about anything, but taking decisions will depend on evaluating the results by the owner and the managers.

Challenges I face

Present evidence to the owner that the changes we intend to do will give good benefits (especially in the field of HRM because it is hard to ‘calculate’ the gains of a change financially). The owner and the managers of the company may attach different levels of value to each decision (if we apply the utility theory, the ‘weight’ criteria has to be unified to reach an agreement or take a decision) (B830, unit 2, session 1, p23). Show the owner and the other managers the importance of keeping up with the modern technological changes (especially in the field of IT). Managing across boundaries is a challenge for me because it demands great efforts for coordination, convincing, research etc. It seems that we have common aims, but we cannot agree on them (B830, unit 2, session 4, pp 21-22).

Concerning the decision making process (the above-mentioned 2 challenges are also related to the process of decision making), when the managers (we) discuss issues related to changes or improvements, I feel that there are like two ‘poles’ or ‘blocs’ inside our management team: the IT manager and the HR manager on one side, the owner and the accounting manager on the other side. The marketing manager and the operations manager may take any of these two sides. I feel that there is a high ‘subjectivity’, strong bias towards the owners’ preferences, and a resistance towards changes to avoid paying the financial costs or disrupting the ‘routine’ of the work. These issues cause problems when we want to take rational decisions.

Obtain well-trained employees (translators) who know how to use translation software, have good qualifications and experience and good motivations to work successfully. I need to be able to have good influence on the employees, the managers and the owner to convince them of my points of view, make them accept implementing continuous changes in the best possible methods (this demands synergy, coordination, supervision, good performance measures, clarity of aims etc). Concerning innovation, we can think (and implement) of new practices to improve our company, but the challenges include applying continuous researches, discussions, changes calculations etc (all the managers have to agree on that). Innovation can have another aspect, using new software to have a better quality of translation (B830, unit 2, session 6, p 77).

Opportunities

Learn from my mistakes (and my co-workers’ mistakes) to increase my knowledge and abilities. We try not to make mistakes, but if we make a mistake, there is always a chance to learn from it (B830, Unit 1, pp30-31). If I obtain information from good sources (translators’ clubs, newsletters, magazines etc), I can present reliable information to the managers to have better information to start some innovation initiatives. As I cope with the challenging role I am playing in this organisation, I have a good opportunity to develop my managerial skills and abilities to become a good leader in future (B830, Unit 2, Session 5, p60). Possible to help in making my organisation a leading organisation in the field of translation (expand it to include more services, win more bids for big translation projects in the USA, Europe or worldwide etc)

My current strengths and weaknesses

Source of information I have sought information about my strengths and weaknesses from the following different sources (using the 360 degrees feedback to obtain a neutral, comprehensive and deep view): 1- My experience and learning (I believe that each one of us benefits, consciously or unconsciously, from Kolb learning cycle (B830, Unit 1, p7) to learn about many things including himself). 2- My co-workers (their opinions about me and by comparing myself with them) 3- Remarks and feedback from my managers (the previous managers and the current one) 4- Understanding what is required from me at my work (aims, norms, rules, planning, implementation, abilities, what I should and shouldn’t do, the current performance measures at work and my abilities to achieve what is required by them etc) 5- My mistakes (especially the mistakes that I have done many times without being able to avoid them or reduce them) (B830, unit 1, pp29-30). 6- My achievements (especially the achievements I have made and others could not by using the same resources and chances)

Strengths

I always like to learn (theoretically and practically) from different sources (OU courses, the Internet, books, friends, my mistakes etc. The learning strategies (reflection and asking questions) (B830, unit 1, pp29-34) can help me to learn more effectively in addition to acquiring suitable approaches to learning (B830, unit 1, p34). I have good knowledge about IT (I have an HND in IT). This will help me to participate in ‘cross boundaries’ management when it is necessary to help the IT department in any changes. I have good knowledge (theoretical) from the OU courses I have studied (more than 12 courses up till now); for example, I could classify the owner of the organisation as an ‘achiever’ according to the characteristics of her management style ((B830, unit 2, session 5, p53).

I believe that I am studying now the right courses for dealing with employees (HRM courses at the OU to have an MSc in HRM) Concerning the challenges related to dealing with the owner and the managers to convince them of my point of views and taking the right decisions with them, I believe that I have a good knowledge about the process of decision-making (after studying unit 2, session 1 of B830). This is very useful for understanding how to participate in the process of decision-making and discussing important issues with others. For example, the utility theory (B830, unit 2, session 1, pp 23-24) can help me to understand the owner’s point of view. There are many ideas in the course (B830) that can help me to understand the other managers and the owner (characters, motives, aims etc).

Examples about this exist in the course in: 1- Responding to Ethical dilemmas (Unit 2, session 2, pp 59-62), 2- Ethical Frameworks (Unit 2, Session 2, pp 79-86), 3- Twenty-first-Century-Leadership – the psychological underpinnings (Unit 2, Session 5, pp 49-60). I can work on developing my leadership abilities by using methods such as charting dilemmas and appreciative inquiry (B830, Unit 2, Session 5, p 61). This will help me to gain more experience in dealing with the other managers, the owner and the employees to have better influence in future (and to be able to participate more effectively in the discussions to reach the best results because the aim of my arguments and discussions should not be only ‘having influence’ or ‘winning the argument’.

Weaknesses

1- Sometimes I cannot find time or sufficient resources to know about the business environment and its quick changes (this demands reading magazines, newspapers, contact the specialised organisations etc). From the psychological perspective, it is important to use heuristics as a way of reducing the complexity of decision making to frame the problem and use the information (B830, Unit 2, Session 1, p25).

2- If I cannot convince the Managing director (proprietor) of doing something (especially a big change at work that demands spending big amounts of money), I feel frustrated for a long time and I lose my desire to do any more improvements. I feel sometimes that she does not give convincing reasons for her decisions.

3- To innovate at this organisation, we may need to use Robert Reich’s idea ‘the team as hero’ (B830, unit 2, session 6, p 86). This demands forming teams, cross-boundary innovation processes (B830, unit 2, session 6, p 90), to start thinking of innovations at work. I cannot do it without working together with the other managers or employees.

4- The feedbacks from customers does not seem enough to know more about what they want. I feel that I have a weakness or deficiency concerning that issue. This makes me have unaware of what the customers want from our employees or how to plan to improve our employees services (what training the employees need).

5- The owner wants more customers abroad. This demands more activities from the marketing department. I do not know the marketing plans of the marketing department. When we plan for expanding our company and having more customers in other countries (strategic planning of the management), I feel that I cannot know what the marketing department is planning.

Areas of focus of my EBI

It is possible to form cross-boundary teams to think and plan for innovations. This demands obtaining approval from the managing director, choosing the key individuals, extensive communication, creative climate etc (B830, unit 2, session 6, p96). Possible to subscribe to magazines, newsletters, internet groups etc to obtain information about the development in the field of technology concerning translation and the modern policies and techniques which are related to translation. This will help us in taking better decisions (decision making) for more improvements and future changes.

We can work on obtaining more detailed feedback from our customers to know what they like, need, dislike and/or prefer (to improve our customer services and quality of translation) Some other managers and employees need ‘continuing and stretching individual development’ (B830, unit 2, session 6, p96). This demands suggesting helping them to study at the OU (courses like B820, B300, B700 etc); this will make them more aware of how to innovate and improve the work processes. To improve the quality of our translation and gain confidence and popularity, we can try to obtain an ISO recognition for our company (I do not know their demands in detail, but it is worth studying them to know what we need). During the meetings of the managers, it is better if the other departments present detailed reports about their plans, views, problems etc because I think that the current information we have about what each department is doing is not enough (there is not time or insufficient efforts to fill this gap).

Conclusion

The challenges I face are related to convincing the other managers of my point of view due to some problems in the decision making process, training the employees and innovation. The opportunities include: learning from my mistakes, the ability to innovate if we obtain good information and form cross boundaries teams, becoming a good leader and improving the organisation to become a prominent organisation in the field of translation. The strengths I have include good education, my knowledge about the decision making process and my ability to understand the employees and the managers from a psychological point of view. My weaknesses are related to the lack of the necessary information for innovation, being unable to work with the other managers to innovate (teams), the lack of feedback from customers and insufficient information about the activities of the other departments.